Brad Anderson, USA, 2001, 100 min.
The setting is an abandoned mental institution ready for remodeling. The characters are group of workers hired to remove the asbestos from its crumbling interior. This indie horror film has a good setup, and a lot more going for it as well.
The leader of this group of workers has trouble at home, and has to deal with a team that is falling apart. One stole another’s girlfriend, one is obsessed with old audio recordings of therapy sessions he found in the hospital, and the other is a punk kid who is scared of the dark.
Tension builds and builds amongst the team, and the dark and creepy interior of the asylum is not helping. What’s remarkable about the movie is how the script doles out that tension and walks a fine line between the supernatural and reality.
Are their ghosts in this old institution? Madmen? Patients still living within the walls? The films keeps moving without giving you answers right away. It’s quite a balancing act and it pays off really well at the end.
The performances are strong and the shot-on-video cinematography is decent throughout and even quite good in the darkness. The direction by Brad Anderson isn’t as refined as it could be. There are some wasted shots and odd camera choices, but those are easily overlooked. The story is good and the symmetry of the script shows just how much thought went into the writing. This is a good film and a refreshing entry in the modern indie horror world.